South Africa has the second largest incidence of skin cancer in the world. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is urging all South Africans to become more sun smart to reduce the amount of skin cancer. Which is why we at Beauty Therapy Institute feel it is vitally important to educate South Africans about skin cancer and what we can do to lower the incidences of skin cancer.
The Sun and Skin Cancer
Everyone is at risk of getting skin cancer as we are all exposed to the Sun. Ethnic skins are less susceptible as they have a higher level of Melanin, which naturally protects the skin from sun damage. However, this does not exempt the ethnic population from getting skin cancer.
Approximately 80% of sun damage to the skin is done before the age of 18 years. For this reason, it is imperative that we take care of our children’s skin. Children under a year old should never be exposed to direct sunlight. Develop a healthy relationship with your children and the sun. Educate them about the importance of wearing a sunblock, wearing hats or caps and where possible, staying out of the sun between 10:00 am and 15:00 pm. Pack sunblock in their school bags and teach them to reapply every 2 hours.
Three Main Types of Skin Cancer and Their Characteristics
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma
Raised, translucent, pearly like nodule that may crust, ulcerate or bleed.
Mostly found on the face and other exposed areas.
2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Usually raised, pink, opaque nodules that often form ulcers or sores in the centre.
Mostly found on exposed areas.
3. Malignant Melanomas
Often small brown or black or multi coloured patches with an irregular outline that may crust and bleed. Malignant Melanomas occur on pre-existing moles/ skin spots.
Things to Remember When out in the Sun:
- Always wear an SPF
- Re-apply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming, whether at the beach or the pool
- Try and avoid going into the sun between 10am and 3pm
- Wear and hat or cap and sunglasses when outdoors
- Most importantly have fun outdoors but be responsible when it comes to looking after your skin whilst in the sun.
Written by Lucia Du Plessis, Principal of Beauty Therapy Institute Somerset West
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